While many have debated whether Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, had been overthrown by a coup d’état or a fair democratic process, political analyst at the University of the Free State, Sethulego Matebesi, says regardless of the circumstances, there is an important lesson to be learned for all African countries.
“As far as I am concerned, this was definitely a coup. Although it was an effort by the Zanu-PF, the military’s involvement made it a coup. However, it was a very important kind of coup — one that sends a strong message of no violence, which is not something we’ve seen in Zimbabwe thus far.
“African countries can take note of the fact that Zimbabweans kept blood shed to a minimum in this coup,” Matebesi said.
While the “silent coup” is a milestone in African history, Matebesi says current interim president Emmerson Mnangagwa and his team are now faced with the heavy task of winning the public’s vote, which will require him to prove that he is nothing like former President Mugabe.
“I strongly believe that there will be a lot of pressure on Mnangagwa and some of the leaders we’ve seen in Zanu-PF, to ensure that they adhere to basic principles like not embezzling public funds, ensuring that Zimbabwe has a fair general election in 2018, and lastly, to drive and set Zimbabwe on the path of economic recovery.
“There will be a lot of pressure from the international community for Zimbabwe to do things right, and I think if they can get that right, I strongly foresee that 15 years from now, Zimbabwe will be on the path of political and economic stability,” he says.
Meanwhile, the University of the Free State has issued a statement offering support to staff and students from Zimbabwe. The university has acknowledged that the political situation may cause uncertainty for those students who will soon be returning to Zimbabwe on completion of their exams and the current semester.
In the statement, the rector and vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Francis Petersen, says: “We have reached out to our Zimbabwean students on campus, and will assist them where necessary.”
Although the statement does not say anything about the kind of assistance offered, students and staff are encouraged to contact the office for international affairs at 051-401-9058 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The university says it currently has 381 students from Zimbabwe.